Be Still My Heart: Is it Palpitations or Atrial Fibrillation that Makes Your Heart Skip a Beat?
- Posted on: Sep 30 2017
Most adults have felt it a time or two: that thump or fluttering sensation in the chest. This may occur while engaging in some physical activity, like working out or working in the yard. Arrhythmias may also occur for seemingly no good reason at all. In many cases, this sensation may be normal. However, it is important to be able to differentiate between the “average” palpitation and a potentially serious problem. Here’s what we want you do know . . .
Heart palpitations are perceived as a normal event when the body or mind is experiencing some stress. Because a lot of us carry unmanaged stress around like it’s necessary, palpitations can send the heart fluttering at any moment, without a moment’s notice. Atrial fibrillation, aka AFib, is different. This event occurs as a result if a misfire of electrical signals to the heart. When this misfire occurs, the upper chambers of the heart beat too quickly and at an abnormal pace. Blood then pools in these upper chambers rather than moving on to the lower chambers as it should.
What makes discernment difficult is that benign palpitations mimic the symptoms of AFib. In fact, palpitations, or a racing heart, is a prime symptom of atrial fibrillation. So how might you be able to notice the difference? A few details to look for include:
- Consider your stress levels. If you are in a stressful situation or time of life, there is a good chance that palpitations are the result of the body releasing stress hormones like cortisol.
- Notice the small things. Heart palpitations could coincide with sweating and nausea, two other symptoms of anxiety and stress. Also, benign palpitations typically come and go more quickly than those attributed to electrical misconduct in the heart.
- Consider your age and general health. Individuals with thyroid conditions may be at a greater risk of AFib, as are individuals over the age of 65.
- Notice your heartbeat. AFib occurs alongside irregularity. Benign palpitations, on the other hand, speed up but keep a steady pace before slowing down to normal.
The Bottom Line
Heart health is an important aspect of general healthcare. If you frequently experience heart palpitations, there is no reason not to see your doctor. For friendly service from an experienced team, call Premier Cardiology Consultants in Forest Hills, Richmond Hill, or Lake Success.
Posted in: Cardiac Procedures